Today is the fifth and final day of my Ameripolitan trip in Memphis, so I’ll recap yesterday’s events. I’m not overly familiar with or immersed in this particular scene, but there’s a whole lot of music at a very affordable price ($100 got me in to all days, including the awards show tonight, a t-shirt, and discounts at places like Graceland).
Yesterday afternoon in the hotel lobby, Guitarist Sean Mencher and pedal steel player Rose Sinclair played an instrumental set, joined by guitarist Chris Casello, the drummer from The Go Getters, and the double bass player from Don Diego Trio.
There was an Ameripolitan fashion show scheduled from 3-6, but the reality was closer to 4-4:45. That’s not in my wheelhouse, but it was the only thing going on. Musical artists such as Whitney Rose and Jake Penrod were the models. Elvis Presley’s jacket from Jailhouse Rock made an appearance.
The evening music showcase was not at the hotel like most of the other events. Rather, it was in a cramped little place on Beale called the Blues City Cafe. I don’t know how many people are at Ameripolitan. Maybe a couple hundred? Doors for the 8pm event opened at 6:30. I found $5 parking a block away, and told two beggars I had no money for them on my one block walk. I did not advise them to wear crappier clothes if they wished tourists to believe that they they were indeed destitute. I arrived shortly after doors opened, and found the next to last chair. Most had to stand the entire time, and it ran past 12:30. While that packed-like-sardines experience vastly lacked in comfort, it did provide a certain “packed-house energy” as a listening experience, properly befitting honky-tonk, outlaw, and rockabilly.
On to the music… The first three scheduled acts and an unscheduled guest or two took the first three hours or so, and the folks who went later played shorter sets. In addition to the scheduled performers (Green Line Travelers, Dale Watson, James Intveld, Summer Dean, Whitney Rose, Josh Sorheim, Zephaniah Ohora), there were special guest performances by Jason D Williams, James Hand, and Jesse Dayton. The Reeves Brothers backed Zephaniah, and Rosie Flores joined James Intveld.
There were many Ameripolitan performers in the audience. Also, I’ll mention that Jerry Lee Lewis’ son, who gives tours of his father’s home, was at the next table from me. Gina Haley was at the afternoon instrumental offering at the hotel.